JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — Shynese Whitener scored a game-high 22 points to lead four players in double figures as Tusculum College defeated Carson-Newman University 64-55 in South Atlantic Conference women’s basketball action Wednesday night at Holt Fieldhouse.
Kasey Johnson posted her fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Pioneers (12-10, 10-9 SAC) snapped a five-game losing streak to the Eagles (16-9, 10-9 SAC), who were ranked eighth in this week’s NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings.
With the win, the Pioneers moved into a tie for seventh place in the SAC standings with the Eagles with three games left in the regular season. Tusculum and Carson-Newman are a game ahead of Lenoir-Rhyne (9-10) for eighth place and the final berth in the SAC Tournament, with Coker two games behind at 8-11 in the league.
Tatum Burstrom led Carson-Newman with 14 points, but was the only player to score in double figures for the Eagles, who shot 28.6 percent (20-for-70) from the field and hit on just 9-of-40 shots in the second half. As a team, Carson-Newman went 6-for-31 from three-point range and were outrebounded 47-36 by Tusculum.
Whitener set a career best by going 12-for-12 from the foul line for the Pioneers, including all eight of her attempts in the fourth quarter. Her 12-for-12 effort was the second-most foul shots made without a miss in program history, bettered only by a 16-for-16 effort by Amy Bible against Bluefield in 1993-94.
Johnson, who had a career-high 24 points in the Pioneers’ win over Coker on Saturday, shot 7-for-13 from the field and matched Kristen McMillion for the game high in rebounds with 11. Maelyn Head added a season-high eight rebounds to go along with 12 points, while Sydney Wilson also reached double figures for the Pioneers with 11 points.
Tusculum bolted out to an early 10-2 lead behind four points apiece from Johnson and Whitener, but the Eagles closed the first period with a 10-0 run to go on top 15-12 on a three-pointer by Ashton Wykle with 15 seconds remaining.
Carson-Newman never trailed in the second quarter, but Tusculum forced four ties in the period, with the last coming on two free throws by Whitener with 53 seconds left that sent the teams to the locker room tied at 28.
Whitener led all players with 10 points in the first half while Head added eight points as the Pioneers shot 38.5 percent (10-for-26) from the field as a team. Wykle had a team-high nine points for the Eagles, who were 11-for-30 from the field but just 2-for-13 from three-point range in the half.
Carson-Newman led by as many as four points in the third quarter at 34-30 following a three-point play by Kaitlyn Cupples with 8:46 left, but the Pioneers came back to take a 35-34 lead on a layup by Johnson with 6:46 to play in the period. Tusculum used a 10-0 run to go on top 47-36 on two free throws by Head with 28 seconds left in the period, and led 47-39 entering the final 10 minutes.
The Eagles whittled the Pioneer lead to 50-47 on a putback by Taylor Peterson with 7:19 remaining, but Tusculum answered with five straight points on a free throw by Johnson, a basket by Wilson and two foul shots by Whitener to go ahead 55-47 with 3:56 remaining.
A three-pointer by Burstrom brought the Eagles within 58-55 with 47 seconds to go, but Whitener sank two free throws with 30 seconds left to extend the Pioneer lead to five. Whitener then came up with a steal and made two more at the stripe to give Tusculum a 62-55 lead with 17 seconds to go, and Head capped the scoring with two more foul shots with eight seconds remaining.
Tusculum went 18-for-21 (85.7 percent) from the foul line in the second half, including an 11-for-12 effort in the final four minutes. Meanwhile, Carson-Newman was 5-for-9 at the stripe in the second half and 9-for-14 overall in the game.
Cupples and Peterson shared the team high in rebounds for Carson-Newman with seven apiece, and both finished the game with six points. Wykle ended the game with the nine points she scored in the first half, with Katie Stubblefield also scoring nine points in 14 minutes off the Eagles’ bench.
With two steals in the game, Whitener increased her career total to 205 thefts and moved into sole possession of fifth place on the Tusculum all-time list. The senior has at least one steal in 23 of her last 24 games and has scored in double figures in 30 of her last 33 contests.
Tusculum will be on the road Saturday afternoon at Newberry in a South Atlantic Conference matchup. The Wolves won in Greeneville 61-48 on Jan. 9, and are currently in a four-way tie for second place in the league standings with three games remaining. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Eleazer Arena.